Category Archives: Fountain Family

Theater producer and consultant Diana Buckhantz joins Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

Diana Buckhantz cropped

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome veteran theater producer and public relations consultant Diana Buckhantz to its Board of Directors.

Diana Buckhantz recently produced the critically acclaimed new musical Songbird in New York City which is about to have a second production at Two Rivers Theatre this June before an eventual return to New York. She was part of the producing team that brought the Tony-nominated musical Leap of Faith from the Ahmanson Theatre to Broadway. Her producing credits also include Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York and The Last Goodbye at the Old Globe.

“I have been seeing shows at the Fountain for many years and have always been so impressed by the quality of the work,” says Buckhantz. “Excellent writing, beautifully staged productions and wonderful acting – all wrapped around and illuminating the important social and moral issues of the day. I believe that theatre should entertain but also that it should stimulate audiences to challenge their values and belief systems.  The Fountain does this in engaging and thoughtful ways. I am excited to join the board to help support this important work and help the theatre to grow and expand its reach. “

Diana began her professional career producing award-winning documentaries including “Dying with Dignity,” “Hunger in the Promised Land, and “Not A Question of Courage,” all for KTLA. Her documentaries have also received two National EMMY awards, two local EMMY Awards, the Scripps Howard Award for Broadcast Journalism, the State Bar of California Public Service Award, the NAPTE National Iris Award, the National Education Award, three Angel Awards, and the Kenny Rogers World Hunger Media Award.

While a producer at ITC Productions, she received an Associate Producer credit for the feature film “Without A Clue,” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

Currently, she also runs her family foundation which focuses on issues around runaway and homeless youth, arts education in the schools, aging, reproductive rights, and combating genocides and mass atrocities in Africa.

She proudly serves on the boards of Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Youth Network, Jewish World Watch and Capital and Main.

Her greatest production, however, is her son Sam.

“Diana has been a fan of the Fountain for some time, ” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Her professional experience as a theater producer and her dedicated service on notable non-profit boards makes her a very strong asset to our Fountain Family. We are thrilled to have her on our Board of Directors. “

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Creating a theatre family and community: Meet intern Victoria Montecillo

Victoria Montecillo at desk June 2016by Victoria Montecillo

Hey there Fountain family! My name is Victoria Montecillo and I am the Development Intern at The Fountain this summer. I am a recent graduate of Scripps College, where I got a double degree in Theatre and Media Studies. Aside from theatre, I love music (making it and listening to it!), reading (now that I’m done with college, I actually have time to read again), and spending time with the people I love. I was born in New York, but my family moved to Hong Kong before I turned two, so I grew up in Hong Kong before coming back to the United States for college.

In my experiences in theatre, I’ve done a little bit of everything – I found my passion as a performer, and I explored working in sound, lights, and directing. I found that although my heart initially was only with performing, I loved being involved in theatre in any way I could. I loved being a part of the work, and helping create that final product. In college, I became so much more aware of the power of theatre; the power of giving voices to untold stories, and of reaching out to audiences through stories of the human experience. 

At the same time, I was beginning to better understand my own identity as a first-generation Filipino-American who grew up abroad. This year, I went to see a play written by a professor of mine about Filipina immigrant women in the United States. The script was a mix of English and Tagalog, with supertitles projected onto the set. It was the first time I had seen a piece of original theatre with people onstage who looked like me, and talking like my family. Each of their stories were powerful, real, and resonated with me in a way I didn’t expect. That’s when I realized the true power of theatre, and I understood my compulsion to work in theatre. I wanted to have a hand in the stories that are told onstage, and I wanted to be able to help create theatre that reached out to all kinds of audiences, to make them feel heard and understood. 

I am so incredibly thrilled to be here at the Fountain this summer – not only do I admire the work that they produce, I am just so honored to be welcomed to the family and community here. Community is such an essential aspect of theatre and creating art, and I am so excited to do my part to contribute and further the work done here. 

Our thanks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program for making this summer internship possible.  

Special guests applaud the Fountain Theatre at the home of actor Alan Mandell

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Stephen Sachs speaks to the invited guests.

Fountain friends, longtime and new, enjoyed an unforgettable afternoon Saturday at the magnificent Westwood home of actor Alan Mandell. English tea, sandwiches and pastries were served to thirty invited special guests who marvelled at Alan’s extraordinary art collection and chatted about the achievements and future of the Fountain Theatre.

The afternoon salon was organized so distinguished friends and supporters of the Fountain could stay connected with the theatre and each other. And new colleagues and associates from the Los Angeles business and arts communities were introduced to the Fountain’s inner circle.

Fountain Co-Artistic Directors Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs were joined by Producing Director Simon Levy, Associate Producer James Bennett and Director of Development Barbara Goodhill.

Fountain Board members Dorothy Wolpert, Karen Kondazian, Dick Motika, Jerrie Witfield, Don Zachary, and Oscar Arslanian welcomed guests Nyla Arslanian, Lorraine Evanoff, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, Shari Leinwand, Alan Mandell, Victoria Meyers, Dr. Charles and Laura Nagurka, Richard and Gloria Pink, Joan Quinn, Jacqueline Schultz, Marty Shelton, Mark Stankevich, Magda Waingrow, and Stanley Wolpert.

The crowd savored the English Tea delicacies provided by Anyone For Tea. Guests toured Alan’s stunning home populated with museum-quality sculptures, paintings, prints, and other vibrant art works.

Stephen Sachs spoke to the group, reviewing the many accomplishments of the Fountain Theatre over its 26-year history and outlining its goals and needs to come. He expressed the artistic heart and soul of the company and its dedication to serving a wide variety of communities throughout Los Angeles. He listed the many Fountain new plays that are now being produced in theatres across the country and around the world. And he articulated the challenges and objectives moving forward, describing the Fountain as an essential treasure on the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. 

“We use two words to describe the Fountain Theatre,” Sachs remarked. “These two words are our brand.They appear on our letterhead, our website, our business cards. The two words are: Intimate. Excellent. That’s who we are. What we offer. What we’ve been for 26 years.”

“I truly believe, in my heart, that what we do matters, ” he continued. “Now, more than ever, in this electronic age of the internet and streaming videos and a gazillion cable channels, there may be no higher calling than to get people away from their screens and have a shared human experience, live, in the moment, together, that is intimate and excellent.”

“I hope you agree, ” he concluded. “Let’s make it happen. Together.”

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Fountain Summer of Love

As summer ends, the days (and nights) are staying hot at the Fountain. Passion burns with the mid-day heat and love sizzles on. The budding of new life, the sharing of new vows, and renewals of long-term love blossomed throughout the Fountain Family this summer. Every season is ripe for ardor and devotion, but the past few months have truly been …

A Fountain Summer of Love.

Wedding Bells for Olga Garay and Kerry English

"Bakersfield" actors Nick Ullett & Jenny O'Hara celebrated 25 years of marriage this summer -- and a hit play!

Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs and wife, actress Jacqueline Schultz, marked their 20 year wedding anniversary this summer.

Props Designer/Set Dresser Misty Carlisle

"Photograph 51" actress Aria Alpert

Director Armina LaManna and husband Alex (our charming cafe fellow) are expecting TWINS!

Fountain actors Keith Arthur Bolden & Tinashe Kajese celebrate 4 years of marriage this summer.

Fountain Family members Zach Dulli & actress Stephanie Stearns Dulli welcomed their second son, Huck.

Fountain Spotlight: Set Designer Jeff McLaughlin

Love the set for Bakersfield Mist? Meet the man who designed it. Jeff McLaughlin designed the Fountain sets for The Train Driver (2010), A House Not Meant to Stand (2011), and Bakersfield Mist (2011).

Did you enjoy designing the set for Bakersfield Mist?

I loved designing the set for Bakersfield Mist. Definitely the most interesting research I’ve ever done! Who knew there was so much variation possible in trailer homes? The one thing that I definitely got out of that research was just how confined a space twelve feet really is. It was something I really wanted to bring to the set, especially the ceiling height. I was a little surprised, honestly, by how big it looks in the space, but it would be a completely different story if you actually had to live in it.

Where did you find all the bizarre  stuff that goes on the set?

Bakersfield Mist

Misty Carlisle, the prop designer, and I had a VERY collaborative effort on this show. I knew we would have no problems after working together on A House Not Meant to Stand, but the crossover on Bakersfield Mist was very gray and very massive. There are so many individual items on that set that I think it would have driven either of us insane if one of us had to do it all alone. I called in lots of favors, borrowed things from everyone I could think of, made trips downtown and all the way out to Ventura to get set dressing. I stopped at every thrift shop and 99 cent store within a 20 mile radius of The Fountain at least twice! Every bag of items I brought in wasn’t enough. We needed ten more bags. I’m sure Misty was doing the same thing. It was like show-and-tell in kindergarten  every morning when we would both show up with bags and boxes of “art”. There were a few days when I didn’t think I’d ever have enough stuff. But then a big favor would come through (like an entire car load of items) or I’d find a new aisle at the 99 cent store. With all the help and the ability to literally run into a store, do a two-minute scan and get on to the next one, it happened!

Your set for Bakersfield Mist has received much praise from the press. And audiences love staring at it before the play begins and point out all the weird stuff that’s on it. Does this give you pleasure?

I’m really excited that the audiences seem to love it as much as I do. I’ve sat there for 15 minutes just scanning the set, looking at all the items and my private little jokes that are hidden here and there, but I never thought about an audience doing that. It really is something to do after you’ve taken your seat and are waiting for the show to begin. The best part for me is the fact that when the actors, Jenny and Nick, hit the stage all of it sinks into the background because the two of them are on fire! Their performances are absolutely outstanding and bigger than all of those tchotchkies combined. Continue reading

Fountain Family Spotlight: Carolyn and Bud Rorman

by Carolyn & Bud Rorman

It’s been 8 years since our introduction to the Fountain Theatre. We heard about To Be Young, Gifted and Black and put it on our list of “must see’s” as Bud’s cousin, Robert Nemiroff, had produced this play adapted from the works of Lorraine Hansberry Nemiroff. Of course, we were thrilled with Bobby’s play and have made the trek from So. Orange County to Hollywood ever since.

We were especially excited when another Fountain hit, Exits and Entrances, showed up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. And since we just happened to be there, we had to see it again.

We’ll continue attending the Fountain Theatre until we are no longer able to drive. Hopefully that will be a long while.

Spotlight: “Bakersfield” Writer/Director Stephen Sachs

Stephen Sachs on the set of "Bakersfield Mist".

Stephen Sachs co-founded the Fountain in 1990 and remains its co-artistic director.

by Jason Kehe

Why did you write this play?

I loved the idea of bringing these two wonderful characters together — this bawdy, salty-tongued, boozy lady and this sophisticated art expert from New York — and have their two worlds collide. The conflict in the play is that both of these characters, who come from opposite ends of the social and economic spectrum, have a deep personal relationship with art. It means something very profound to both of them for very different reasons.

Describe the experience of working with actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett.

I’ve known Nick and Jenny for years. I wrote the play specifically with them in mind. The two of them are so much like these characters. Jenny is a very straight-talking, honest, direct, funny, emotional person; Nick is a Brit who has a certain kind of sophistication, intelligence — very erudite. We had a ball.

Were you a fan of Jackson Pollock before “Bakersfield Mist”?

I was a fan and certainly knew his work but didn’t know much about him. Doing research for the play, I grew to appreciate him even more. His demonic spirit, his inner storm, his tormented passion is very much a character in this play.

Do you prefer to direct your own work?

Directing one’s own play is a challenge because you need to do two things at once: be present and alive as a creative artist as both director and playwright. In rehearsal I am both listening to the dialogue as the playwright and watching as the director.  I do enjoy directing my own stuff, but I’m ruthless with myself, the playwright, as a director. I don’t treat my own written word as something sacred if it doesn’t work. Nick and Jenny were also a big help with the text throughout the rehearsal process. They’re both very smart actors.

The play is getting a lot of attention. When you were writing it, did you ever think to yourself, “This is good”?

The national attention is exciting. Productions are already planned around the country. And it has been optioned by a commercial producer for New York, for either Broadway or Off-Broadway.  There is something special about this play. It really has a life of its own. From the very first public reading (in Denver) it was clear that the play was going to work. As the writer, this was one of those instances when the characters really came alive for me. I was channeling them, almost like taking dictation. It’s a blessing when that happens, because it doesn’t always happen that way.

Have you ever been in a situation like Maude’s, believing in something’s value against all probability?

Isn’t that what we do everyday as artists? Doing theater at all — whether you’re in Los Angeles or anywhere in this country — can be an uphill battle. Part of the energy goes into creating the art, and the other half goes into screaming to the world that the art matters.